Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle cuts through the "religion" that clutters our Christian walk with this elementary truth: "We need the Spirit desperately. All our cleverness can't transform a single crack addict, heal the heart of a rape victim, or draw a jaded business man to Christ..."
During the last few months of my own personal spiritual "pruning/growth/turmoil" God has shown me that I need to get back to the BASICS: loving God, relentless praying, being continually filled with the Holy Spirit, loving the Word, picking up the shield of FAITH, wielding the sword of the SPIRIT, and loving those God has brought into my circle. Even the BASICS seem over-whelming and unobtainable to me, and they are without being EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit.
Cymbala in Fresh Power takes an intimate look into the first-half of the book of Acts. He asks questions like, "How did the early church do 'it'?" Over and over again I found scripture that said, "They were filled with the Holy Spirit... and they spoke BOLDLY...and many were won to Christ." Don't believe me? Go check out the book of Acts.
Why don't we study the book of Acts? I have been going to the same church for four years, and don't remember one teaching/sermon in the book of Acts. Some say, "Well that was only for the early Church. God doesn't work like that anymore." I have heard others say (with my own ears), "Our church doesn't believe in faith evangelism. People will be offended by boldness." Doesn't the Word say God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? If polished sermons, elaborate church programs, large choirs, phenomenal Sunday School curriculum, huge sanctuaries, and organized Bible studies won people to the Lord why don't we have more people giving their lives to Christ? Statistics show most of the church growth, today, is between denominations. What is missing, or I think a better question, WHO IS MISSING?
I think we need to take a closer look into the book of Acts. The book of Acts reminds us that the Son of God is sitting at the Father's right hand side, and the only "Agent of Power" in this world is the Holy Spirit. Are we letting HIM work through us, or are we trying to "work" this Great Commission alone?
Food for thought from the book:
1. When Peter and John faced charges with the Sanhedrin, what did they do? They could have ordered a public demonstration (thousands of new Christians were fired-up and ready). They could have thrown in the towel and run; they could have watered down the word so it wouldn't "be offensive" to those listening. Instead, they went to a prayer meeting. The Bible says, "They raised their voices together in prayer to God" Cymbala says "Too many times when we are under stress or opposition, we do EVERYTHING BUT call a prayer meeting. We try to pull political levers, we hold strategy sessions, we "claim the promises" in a rote sort of way instead of praying them biblically. But God said, 'we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Where? At 'the throne of grace' Hebrews 4:16. What happened? Verse 29 says in response to their prayer, "the place where they were meeting was shaken...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."
Why was it written that they "were all filled with the Holy Spirit"? Pentecost had already taken place. Cymbala says this proves we can't live off what God did in our lives last week, last month, or last year."
We all need a "fresh dose of the Holy Ghost.
D.L. Moody preached in New York in 1876, and is quoted in the book saying, "A great many think because hey have been filled once, they are going to be full for all time after; but O, my friends, we are leaky vessels, and have o be kept right under the fountain for all the time in order to keep full...Let us keep near Him."
2. "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." John 13:34
Who can love like this? It isn't "humanly" possible. No amount of preaching and church attendance is going to equip the Body of Christ to pass this "litmus test" of Christianity. The power must be "poured out...into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who HE has given us." Romans5:5
ONE LAST THOUGHT...
3. A new definition of GRACE - "God doing for us, by the Holy Spirit, what we cannot do for ourselves."
What/Who POWERS your Christian Walk?